Viewpoint: Quebec: A valued investor in the success of major festivals

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Added on 22 June 2006 in Viewpoints

Original text signed by Isabelle Hudon, president and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, published in Les Affaires.

June 22, 2006

Quebec: A valued investor in the success of major festivals

Major events such as the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Francofolies de Montréal, the Just for Laughs Festival, and the Quebec City Summer Festival, to name just a few, undeniably figure among Quebec's great success stories. Not only do these events generate significant economic spin-offs, but they also contribute enormously to our tourism image.

If this model of a popular event, accessible to all through impressive components offered free of charge to the public, has been emulated across the province, it is mainly because such major festivals have become well established and received the necessary support to do so.

At a time when the Quebec Government is beginning to discuss the funding of these events, the idea of supporting new players wishing to carve out a place for themselves and contribute, in turn, to Quebec's tourism appeal seems, at first glance, to be commendable. What would be far less so, however, would be to cut off the financial support given to the more “mature” festivals to do so.

The governments of Quebec and Canada occupy a unique position as festival investors – much more so, in truth, than the organizers themselves. Through tax revenues, the governments directly reap the benefits of these major events. And the return on their investment is almost as spectacular as the shows themselves. In the case of the Montreal International Jazz Festival, for example, the 5% of the budget covered by Tourism Quebec corresponds to a $2 investment for each tourist attracted by the festival. Meanwhile, the income generated for the Quebec Government by the presence of that same tourist is $46!

The Quebec government has set itself the goal of generating tourism receipts of $13 billion by 2010. If it is serious about reaching that objective, it will bear in mind the sizable return on investment it reaps from Quebec's major festivals. It will also remember that the expertise developed through these events will nourish and contribute to the launch of new ones. And, above all, it will maintain its support for the major festivals to ensure they continue to be the exceptional draws that they are. For they are the events that consolidate our cultural reputation on the international scene and are thus able to attract tourists from around the world and generate revenues that benefit the entire province.